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120 Women are gathering in Washington, DC, this week to change the world


Lisa Julia Photography for The GIVEN Institute

Cerith Gardiner - published on 06/12/19

The GIVEN Forum is investing in the next generation of Catholic women leaders.

This week, from June 12-16, the GIVEN Forum is taking place in Washington, DC, where 120 young adult women with a desire to use their talents in service of the Gospel will be inspired to live their mission and be leaders.

The participants, who range between the ages of 21 and 30, go through a rigorous application process before being accepted to the Forum and are rewarded with workshops, training sessions, and opportunities to listen to prominent Catholic women leaders — all while having the chance to pray, receive the sacraments, and gain spiritual guidance.

The goal of the Forum is to help young women “receive the gift they are; realize the gifts they’ve been given; and respond with the gift that only they can give,” according to the event’s press release. As one participant, Michelle Nunez, explained after the 2016 forum: “God used GIVEN to really form my identity as a woman and to show me His will in my life.”

Organized and hosted by a team of religious sisters from The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious communities across the country, and by a group of dedicated Catholic lay women who desire to invest in the next generation of Catholic women leaders, the Forum offers attendees the opportunity to network and to glean advice and support to help them fulfill their “Action Plans.” Each woman created an Action Plan before coming to GIVEN, and each intends to carry her plan out in the next year as a “unique initiative to activate her God-given gifts in the Church and in the world.”

The GIVEN Institute connects each Forum participant with a dedicated mentor — lay person or religious sister — who makes herself available to accompany each participant as she rolls out her plan in the coming months.

Previous Action Plans have not only proved successful in the short-term, but continue to grow from strength-to strength. One such plan is The Catholic Woman, a non-profit organization that publishes stories from Catholic women to demonstrate the important role women have in the Catholic Church today. Other plans now in action include Behold: Visio Divina, a 5-week program of praying with art; Managing Your Fertility, a one-stop shop for individuals and couples to learn about the basics of reproductive health and the variety of NFP methods available; and FIERCE Athlete, which promotes authentic femininity within female athletics.

This year speakers at GIVEN include Sr. Mary Madeline Todd, OP; Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT; Gloria Purvis, radio host; and Helen Alvare, professor of law. The forum promises once again to enrich and inspire the lives of the women who attend, who in turn are renewing the culture and the Church.


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